Pro-life Catholic leaders promised to continue fighting for unborn babies in Chile after the country’s highest court upheld a measure to strip away unborn babies’ right to life on Monday.
Abortions are illegal in the South American nation, but the court decision likely will change that. In a 6-4 vote, the high court justices ruled that legislation to allow abortions in cases of rape, fatal fetal anomalies and dangers to the woman’s life is constitutional, the Associated Press reports.
The court ruled on legislation that passed Chilean Congress earlier this month. President Michelle Bachelet has not yet signed it, but she is expected to soon, according to the report.
Crux reports Catholic bishops in Chile released a statement quickly after the ruling to mourn the deadly impact it will have on unborn babies. They said the legislation “offends the conscience and the common good of the citizens.”
Here’s more from the report:
They add that society as a whole loses with the legalization of abortion in Chile, even if it’s only under certain conditions: “We are confronted with a new situation in which some unborn human beings are left unprotected by the State in this basic and fundamental right.”
The note, signed by the heads of the Chilean bishops’ conference, also says that from this point on, “our option for life is translated in redoubling our effort to continue accompanying women who live with their pregnancies in extreme situations, those who choose to see it to term, and those who think abortion is a solution.”
“The Church, the people of God at the service of all, particularly the weakest ones, always offers her hands and extends its embrace in the service of all those who need peace, shelter, support and comfort,” they write.
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The legislation also threatens the rights of medical workers and religious institutions because it has very few conscience protections, according to the report. Doctors may refuse to do abortions under the measure, but nurses and other medical staff are not given conscience protections under the measure. The report states that the legislation also does not allow for objections by religious institutions.
Abortion activists celebrated the ruling Monday, but pro-life advocates wept. The AP observed a group of women carrying pro-life banners and crying after the court ruling was announced.
Abortion activists have been pushing abortion on the country for many years. This spring, for example, the United States-based pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights requested a hearing to lobby for the legislation.
“The hearing was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the request of US-based Center for Reproductive Rights and Chilean NGOs Miles Chile and the Isabel Allende Foundation,” wrote Marie Smith, the director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues. “Despite having the lowest rate of maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean, pressure has been increasing for legislators to add legal exceptions to the law. The IACHR heard testimony in favor of abandoning pro-life protections and a request that the IACHR contact the Chilean Congress in support of the legislation.”